VIP security vs public safety

In addition to being public nuisance, 'very important persons' are a growing threat to public safety. The very concept of 'VIP' needs to be exterminated.

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Kapil Bajaj | May 31, 2010



The movement of ‘very important persons’ or VIPs on Wednesday -- only days after the Mangalore plane crash -- put to risk three commercial flights, with over 450 passengers on board, when they were diverted from Delhi airport, according to a Times of India report.

The three flights had been dangerously short of fuel when they were diverted from Delhi to Jaipur airport without the pilots receiving “Notam” or prior ‘notice to airmen’ (about things like VIP movements), says the report.

Curiously, the officials of the Airport Authority of India are quoted as saying that “the practice of issuing Notam during VIP movements has been stopped due to security reasons.”
We understand that Notam is issued for ‘safety reasons’; AAI says Notam was not issued for ‘security reasons’.

Are ‘safety reasons’ significantly different from ‘security reasons’?
Maybe the answer lies in the distinction between ‘safety of common citizens’ and ‘security of very important persons’ and how the two have been prioritized in a typically Indian fashion.

We Indians have had the experience of how the movement of very important among us disrupts road traffic for the rest of us, without regard to our safety… or even our life.
In November 2009, Sumit Prakash Verma, 32, had died because the vehicle carrying him was denied entry into Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research at Chandigarh on account of prime minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the hospital.
When VIPs move, use the State force to suspend the routine traffic of life, the irritatingly unimportant affairs of the riff raff. That’s the principle that governs our life, overruling the Constitutional principle that the State must treat all Indians as equal.

“It happens only in India – nowhere else – that airspace is closed for ordinary flights some minutes before and after the landing or take-off of a VIP aircraft. It’s a routine affair for us,” an Air India pilot, who won’t like to be named, told Governance Now.
For any closure of this kind, a ‘Notam’ needs to be issued well in advance to all the flights, but the pilots of the VIP aircraft have often had the gall to ignore this critical piece of regulation, he says, citing the well reported incident on February 9th, 2009, when an IAF chopper carrying president Pratibha Patil and her entourage suddenly landed, without getting landing clearance, on a Mumbai airport runway on which an Air India aircraft with 148 passengers on board was speeding for take-off.

A major disaster had been averted then because the Air India pilot was somehow able to abort the take-off barely 300 metres from the IAF chopper and seconds before the velocity of his aircraft would have made it impossible for him to apply brakes.
“An enquiry had been set up, but nothing came out of it, obviously because a VIP was involved,” the AI pilot said.

The death of a patient caused by the PM’s security in November 2009, the disaster that could have been caused by president’s movement in February 2009, and endangering the safety of three flights, again due to VIP movement, last Wednesday – just three of the many incidents that show that the ways of the VIPs are highly dangerous to the life, liberty, well-being, dignity and constitutional rights of ordinary citizens.

A battle needs to be added in ordinary citizens’ war for realizing their democratic rights. It should end with the slaying of the VIP monster.



 

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